Preparation for submitting written work and Open Studios

Somehow these 2 things are happening at the same time: Open studios on 7th and 8th May and submission on the 9th. This means I really need to have everything ready for both this weekend. Walking around this morning, which is how I do a lot of my thinking, I realised that the laborolove project had become about unrecognised work. The postcards are part of that project which also specifically deals with women in art history. There was a moment when I realised that I had always been free to choose this and that this always takes me a long time to decide or to realise that when a project goes in a certain direction it is ok to follow it. This might seem odd as I have been saying laborolove was about work we all do which is unrecognised since it began, however, it seems to take me a long time to accept that I have taken a decision. Perhaps I am waiting for permission or some authority to approve my decision.

As I have open studios next weekend and so need to organise the space in my flat, where my studio is, in order to make my work as accessible as possible to the public. I was just reading through the tutorial with Michele Whiting about the figures in TYB and how they could be sited, their gaze, how they are encountered. The ideas I have had so far are not really possible in this flat. I think I will just have to accept this fact.


Editing Contextual Study

One of the most frustrating things at the moment is that we have all these word limits for the submission which means we are currently cutting large sections of out comparative studies and other written work. For me this has meant revisiting books I read earlier in the year and not being able to use so many  ideas which I do find not only interesting but also relevant in a way. In the end they become reduced to a few sentences and, whilst realising we need to focus this can be very frustrating. The Practice of Everyday Life for example, which has been hugely influential to how my way of thinking has changed.

This is especially true of the sections relating to language and the relationship between academic language and colloquial speech. Again there is much of interest (mentioning Wittgenstein) about the relationship between language about art in relation to science and the limitations of academic language. There is also a lot more about how, for example, cooking is not known . This is related to poetry and painting as activity which is not known but on which we can reflect.

I realise one of my limitations is I tend to read the whole book and then the content cannot all be relevant to the essay. However, I am so glad I did read it all as I will use it elsewhere even if not in anything that will be submitted. I am still trying to work in the ‘mittelglied’ the judgements we make which are somewhere between theory and praxis. But i need to shed some words first.

I also think I have to remove one of the artists, David Ben White, from my study as he offers the least relationship to my practice. This is in a way a pity as I am interested in his work but aside from everyday life design he does not specifically deal with sites or clearly identified groups of people. At this stage I have a lot of words but I am dissatisfied with the overall structure of the essay.


Captura de pantalla 2016-04-24 a las 15.28.05

Map of polígono Marconi

Bus 79

These are part of the documentation for my research but I also want to use them in my paintings as a kind of plan that goes with the videos and also the views in perspective as a kind of layer : a broken line or someway of representing the journey through the industrial estate and the broken pace of it and possibly the sound too.


Mind maps

These maps I made in response to an exercise set by Les Bicknell when we needed to consider how our work relates to audience. The first was made quickly and scanned within the hangout so we could look at each others’ in the cohort. Les then suggested we try and draw our ‘ideal’ model map and I finally realised I had not done this in April, after the Testing Your Boundaries project. In fact that was quite useful as I hadn’t predicted the importance of social media in the process.

Street Art and my connection to it

Many artists have made a leap from street artists to gallery artists – Haring, Basquiat, Os gemeos to name a few well known examples but there are many others less well known. Also many artists make public art as well as gallery art. However after reading about BLU destroying his own work in protest at street in gallery I thought it should be considered further.

Blu’s statement on the painted over murals:

“Seeing street art exhibited in a museum is paradoxical and grotesque,” they wrote of Banksy and Co. “This ‘street art’ exhibition is representative of a model of urban space that we must fight, a model based on private accumulation which commodifies life and creativity for the profits of the usual few people.”

link to article hyperallergic

Of course other murals in other cities survive such as the one on Madrid Rio which has a clear political content and is highly visible. The political hypocrisy in Bolonia is clearly understood however what of how most street art is seen? Much of what is actually on the street is not seen for very long. Most of us do not notice most of what we pass by most of the time. The buildings close to me which have been demolished are all being redeveloped by real estate speculators and are covered in huge advertising bill boards. Artwork is removed from these sites very quickly. Even the Tabacalera a supposed alternative space removed my work in less than 1 week. (in this case the ‘street’ art is all inside and therefore appreciated by a very specific audience). I have been questioning what fans of street art use as criteria for street art. Blu is not the only political street artist there are many but I fear that a lot of the audience are judging art by ‘skill’ and types or style of imagery. Much of what I saw inside the Tabacalera the other day is not likely to inspire debate such as those touched on by blu. Does this matter? Are these pieces of work any less aesthetically pleasing that the buildings surrounding them? In many cases and even with work I dislike stylistically (highly polished fantasy illustrations for example) I cannot say I prefer neon advertisements for global corporations either. But is that what I want my work to do? Probably not. Street art is probably exactly the same as any other genre of art and as Grayson Perry said of contemporary art: you don’t have to like it all.


Curatorial Practices: 23/4/16

Today I have listened to the 2 sound recordings and looked at the links on the LMS which form part of the Intersections and Articulations section of MA2. They were a timely reminder of some of the debates that I have been struggling with throughout the year and, to a lesser extent, before. On the one hand Fran Stafford who has been a curator in Bahrain in the Persian Gulf for the past six years as an expatriate (I assume North American) and the other Jon Barraclough who is a British artist based in Merseyside who struggles with the idea of himself as a curator but who describes drawing projects which he has been involved in and for which he could be considered to have a curatorial role.

Both of these professionals have a wide range of roles within their practice. They are both involved in organising and in some way encouraging new audiences to see art in new settings. Stafford does this through her cousin’s Chiropractor’s clinic ‘in touch’. By showing emerging artists who are both international and from Bahrain and what she calls street culture (however she doesn’t go into what this might mean in Bahrain which we know is a kingdom which has questionable freedom of speech). She is also actively considering how digital platforms like instagram alter how art is disseminated. Barraclough does this, for example through his involvement with The Drawing Paper, a collaboration with Mike Carney. It is a not for profit newspaper based publication concerned solely with drawing and which is produced as low cost production, transportation and aimed at being accessible to contributors and to new audiences.

The context in which they are currently working are totally different. Bahrain is a gulf kingdom with no recent history of art institutions. The National Museum was a pioneer in the area when it opened in 1988. Stafford tells us how new the art and performing arts scenes are and that there are few galleries and no art institutions. She talks about a young art world and focuses on an emerging scene. There are 3 Unesco world heritage sites she says but does not dwell on either the past or the politics of the present in the gulf. Barraclough on the other hand is based in Great Britain where although the arts have seen a drop in public funding recently, there is a strong tradition in art education and state support for the arts.

Although the information supplied by OCA suggested that Stafford might be an artist curator she does not mention her own art practice whereas Barraclough’s practice is very  much linked to what he is not totally comfortable about being called his curatorial practice. There is a blurring of what is curating in his case whereas Stafford has a multifunctioning organising role including selection works and promoting emerging artists, one might assume that in the new galleries these are for sale. Barraclough’s project ‘The drawing paper’ is free for the audience and is a logo free zone. This ideas is to provide an alternative to the preciousness of art venues and encourage new audiences. The newspapers are reusable and drawing contributers usually contribute to the cost of making the work. In contrast Stafford has worked with corporate sponsorship in the arts and, although not exclusively, with commercial galleries.

Barraclough talked in more detail about selection and how even now Mike Carney and himself do not have a clearly defined selection policy. They started out wondering whether they should choose drawings they like or attach themes to different editions. They have made connections between the works, or pages, either stylistic or thematic. They are also interested in drawing practice which challenges what drawing might be. For example 3D work or where it is painting.

This contrasting of two very different ways that audiences encounter art work is at the heart of many of my own doubts. Although Barraclough quotes Bruce Nauman about artists letting go of our work at some point and no longer being precious about how it is shown it is so tempting to want to maintain some control of how it is seen. At what stage do we ‘let go’? In drafting my submission documents I have been trying to deal with this question. How do I want my artwork to be seen, inside galleries or outside of the artworld system? This has raised so many other questions: How seriously is street art taken? does the audience engage in the same way. how much time do I want to spend on organisation and how much can you ‘control’ or do I want to ‘control’ my audience. I am automatically drawn to Barraclough’s practice because he is an artist and his apparent honesty about what is happening in his own work. I am suspicious of anyone working in the Gulf in this way especially as politics are not even mentioned nor are any very specific attitudes to selection or art practices.

The fact that Barraclough cares so passionately about drawing is also inspirational to me. In his definition of drawing and his encouraging others to draw he is interested in as communication and drawing as mind mapping and as a way of knowing and seeing the world that seems to go beyond art practice. I have to acknowledge my own bias in reacting to the 2 presentations. But perhaps the most useful to me at this stage is Bruce Nauman’s idea of teaching yourself to let go of the work at some point and recognising you cannot control what happens to it or how it is received.

Review of territory


I am about to paint over this mind map from last year’s review of my territory which I initially made using nests because of their nurturing metaphors and as I wanted to physically feel my territory. I decided I should make a copy of this so I can judge how my practice has shifted and also add some new things. I can immediately see that many of these concerns and influences are still crucial today but that others, whilst still being of interest have shifted. There are also many new ideas that I want to add. I am going to print it out and revise it.

Cross Bones Graveyard, Southwark, London

Michele Whiting gave me this reference in my tutorial last Friday. I have been looking at images of the place and reading a little about the history.  The term – the ‘Winchester geese’ refers to a medieval term for south London prostitutes who the Bishop of Winchester apparently taxed.


These women where not allowed to be buried on consecrated ground. The most interesting things about this place seem to be that it has survived even though it is pretty central in London which as a city has generally become ‘cleaned up’ and corporatized at least in the center. Also that it has been appropriated by contemporary outsiders who in their own way question the authority of historical texts and the contemporary idea of a local community.

Maybe not directly relevant to my work but interesting as I am thinking of my work outside its own culture and also time plays an enormous part as to where the ‘cultures’ are.


The Winchester Geese – medieval prostitution

Be more of a fan

I think I need to nourish myself more from other’s work and I also need to make many more connections with others. I have a natural tendency to hide away and am very happy working on my own, in fact I need to be on my own to work in the sense of drawing, writing or painting but I can read, film and photograph in public. However that should not stop me from having useful debates about work when I am not  physically working . In particular I am learning slowly, with the help of my cohort, to engage via social networks. At the moment I  feel very overwhelmed with the number of pressing tasks and keeping it all up in terms of reading, watching, making, recording and documenting feels quite overwhelming. And that is not to mention reflecting or thinking.

I do believe, however, I need to be more of a fan. That to me means I need to actively follow and contact the organisations and artists I admire. This has to be somehow worked into everyday life. It is not separate from my work as an artist or me as a person and it even helps with me as a teacher. Somehow I need to integrate this into my day to day life it cannot be a separate part of my life which I remember to do occasionally. I also need to focus my visits to look at art very clearly and identify which ones are within my field of interest. Very few galleries in Madrid are interested in painting per se but my practice might more reasonably fit into their ethos than the galleries that do. In terms of artists there are so many to look at that also feels too much of a task at times. In the end I think I need to go with my gut reaction but also stay open minded.